THANKSGIVINGS REMEMBERED

Living halfway across the world, about all I do now for Thanksgiving is remember. They are good memories and I cherish everyone of them.
Growing up it was a family time. My brother and I would go out hunting early in the morning while Mom got the turkey dinner started. We’d return early, get our game taken care of and then clean up, ready for the day’s dinner. Usually we were joined my some other family members, aunts and such. Then the late afternoon after we were stuffed, the evening was taken up playing cards, pinochle, pitch, spades or whatever. It was a great time.
One of my next great memories was while working as a professional guide for an outfitter in the Salmon River Wilderness area in Idaho. That year Thanksgiving was a little early. Our hunting season had ended and we were busy cleaning up, getting our gear repaired and put up for the winter, and Thanksgiving was upon us. The boss’ wife fixed the full Thanksgiving dinner and we, all us guides and workers gave thanks as a “family” on the Salmon River. What a great time and good memory it is. Sometimes it’s not just blood family, but those you’ve worked with, lived with and gone through trying times with who mean the most at the time.
1992 was the last year I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. I was staying at my brother’s house that year, getting ready to move to Denmark. I got up that morning expecting to smell cooking turkey, but there was nothing. Larry soon appeared and I asked how come no turkey smell? Sue, his wife was sick and unable to cook, so I stepped forward. I asked what the rest of her family was bringing and what needed to be done. I got out the turkey, made the dressing, stuffed the bird and got it going. Potatoes got peeled and ready to cook. As the kids got up, the long table got set up, good china placed and soon family started to show up. As some of the lady family members learned Sue was sick, they then pitched in the help me. Dinner that year was a little late, but it was good. We all had a great time and it was a fantastic last Thanksgiving for me with family.
The next big Thanksgiving event was 2003. That year I’d been deployed to Kuwait / Iraq – I was at war. Later that year I had to return to Ft. Bliss, Texas to finish my Sergeants Major course. It was November, course completed and I’m on my way back. Thanksgiving day I find myself sitting at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany waiting transportation back to Kuwait. My Thanksgiving meal that year was given to me by the USO who had prepared food for us soldiers stranded for the holiday. It was different, but ok. Later that afternoon I boarded a military transport and ended up in Kuwait City.
My last Thanksgiving memory, I was shoeing horses for a trainer who’d spent some time in the States. She was going to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and my wife and I were invited, but she couldn’t find any pumpkin pie filling or yams – hard to find in Denmark. I said maybe I could fix that. I got on my mobile phone and called an Air Force LTC with whom I’d served with in Iraq. He was stationed in Germany. I asked him if he could send me a couple cans of pie filling and some yams from the commissary . No problem Sergeant Major was his reply! So in about three days in the mail I received pumpkin pie filling and yams! Now, LTC DeJesus really made our Thanksgiving dinner complete!
Thanksgivings have been few and far between for me the past few years, but my memories are great. Thanksgiving this year as I was out shoeing horses, I thought about my past Thanksgiving days and I am truly thankful for the memories.

GONE, DID I MISS IT

“If you see something in life and have the chance to do it, do it! There will come a time in your life when you won’t be able to do it, and if you didn’t take that chance you’ll look back and say: Gee I wish I’d done it” This was a piece of advice I received from an old man many moons ago, and he was right. Looking back I’ve lived an amazing life. I’ve tried many different things and gone many different places. One time I had a person say to me in a rather pissed off attitude, “The way you talk, you must have lived a 100yrs”. Later I wondered if the person was pissed off at me because I had the chances and took them or was she pissed off at me because she’d let life pass her by?
I’ll be 60yrs old next year. I guess in the real light of things it’s not that old, but I have see a little water under the bridge. Yesterday as I was driving to my next customer, I got to thinking back over my life – did I do it right? Would I do anything differently?  What a loaded question!
I grew up in the outdoors! As a kid I went through the Boy Scouts(made Eagle Scout) which taught me lots about life and I still use many of the skills I learned there today. During high school summer breaks, I worked, made money and paid my way through to getting a pilot license! There was nothing like flying the plane myself, but I had an accident losing most of the sight in my right eye! Well I don’t fly any more, but I DID!
Hunting, fishing, the great outdoors was a major part of my life. I had the best place to be, Idaho to do this! I later took a job as a professional guide which I later wrote a book about – GUIDE’S LIFE(you can search the net and find it). I got offered a job many dream about and loved it. Now I live where I have no desire to hunt because the hunting experience will never compare to it. I’ve lived, worked, got paid to do what so many pay to do. Physically I couldn’t do the job anymore, but I DID IT!
When I was in my younger days, I got the chance to do the rodeo thing, I rode saddle bronc. I’ll never forget the first time I came out on one. It was better than sex! There was nothing like that 8 second ride. Getting the horse rigged up, dropping in the chute, my stomach would be in churns, but the second I nodded my head and the gate flew open, wow, what a rush! I’m way too old for that now, but I DID IT!
I remember my first road bike, Honda 750, 4 cylinder. Oh the miles and times I had on it. The great Northwest was great biking country. By the time I sold it I had over a 100,000 miles. I had two more road bikes after it. Will I get another one, who knows, but at least I’VE DONE IT!
One year I dabbled a bit in flat track riding. I had a Honda CR250, what a speedy dirt bike. That winter in Caldwell they had some indoor flat track races and I gave it a go. I was never any good at it, but it was fun! Sliding around the corners, dirt flying, the noise, yea it was fun. It was a chance to do something different, had the chance, and I DID IT.
Between the Army sending me places and my just taking the chances I’ve had, I counted I’ve been to over 20 countries. I’ve witnessed history being made. If anything piece of advice I can pass on, it would be what I received so long ago from a grizzled, white bearded old guy I shared in my opening paragraph. I’ve seen so many people who have chances to do something but are too afraid to leave their comfort zone. I wonder what’s in store for this almost 60 yr old guy?  If years ago anyone would have told me I’d be an author, I’d laughed at them, but I’M DOING IT!

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Another shooting in the news, maybe it was someone with a knife, so much violence in our country today. After every shooting the call goes out for more gun control, take away the guns. Before all you skeptics shut me off as a gun toting conservative, just read this, have a cup of coffee or something and think about what I’ve written. If you think I’m totally off the ball, then write your reply and write me off, but not until have read to the end.
I grew up in the Treasure Valley, west of Caldwell, Idaho on a farm. From the time I can remember we had guns in the house. Dad kept them in a locked up area. I can also remember from a very young age I was taught to respect a gun and what it can do. I was always taught never point a gun at anything unless you intend to shoot it. But then I’m guessing most kids growing up on the land learned this, as well as many kids who lived in town, as many of them grew up hunting.
Growing up I also learned to respect authority. When I went to school, or my friend’s place I was taught the adult in charge was in charge! I was to respect their authority and if I didn’t I’d get a good talking to from my Dad or Mom when they learned of my disrespect.
A few other things were different as well. Each morning at the beginning of the day we all stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance. As I started school in 1962, that year prayer got taken out of the schools. Even with this, students had respect for the teacher’s authority and leadership in school. If I’d screwed up and got disciplined at school, which happened once in a while, I’d never go home and complain because I knew my Dad would have no pity on me, and he’d probably punish me for the actions as well. Yea, school had the bullies and there were always some types of playground troubles, this is part of life which can’t be avoided. If I got in a fight for standing up for myself, well then my Dad would understand, give me some advice on how to handle the situation.
When I got older and my driver’s license my Dad had a talk with me. In that talk he told me if I got stopped, it was always “Yes sir, or No sir”. He was the one with the badge and I was to respect his authority. If I felt I was wrongly stopped or whatever along the side of the road was not the place to mouth off at the officer. It was better to keep my mouth shut, go to the judge, present my side of the case.
I didn’t spend so much time in the house. Many times Mom would tell us to go out and play. As we grew up on the farm, we had lots to do. Keeping up a place it took everyone. Every season of the year different tasks needed to be done. Along with these tasks, I also had my chores to do – my responsibility. For these things I never got any type of allowance (it wasn’t until the 5th grade I learned what an allowance was). If I wanted to earn money, I had to make arrangements with my Dad or Mom to do “other” work. Each member of the family had their responsibility and if it didn’t get done then there was extra work for others. For these, I had respect for my responsibilities – in the fact that if I didn’t do them, who would?
Along with these I was taught family values, respect for others, their opinions, ways, religions. My parents instilled in me these values, the difference between right and wrong, to tell the truth and be honest. I was a Boy Scout and what I learned as a scout was: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Yes there was crime, there always has and always will be. But the thing missing was the extent of mass violence we experience today. I also wonder if back then, when we got kids out side to play, expend that excess energy rather than drug them to settle down had some effect? Why are more and more kids going to a shrink to get squared away instead of parent taking the step forward with love and discipline? Class rooms weren’t so crowded so teachers had more time with students.
This list of difference can go on and on. But some of the things I’ve noticed, the basic things: RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, THOUGHTFULNESS, LOVE, FAMILY VALUES, and parents having QUALITY time with their kids – are these the same today as they were 40 or 50 years ago? And I am going to add one last one: Taking responsibility for one’s own actions.
We can blame the guns, knives, politics, religion, economy, others, etc. But where lies the REAL problem? Take some time to examine our world – your world, and now give it an honest thought – where does the real problem lie?

Veteran’s day 2015

As of this writing I’m sitting in the Lisbon airport waiting for my flight back to the “real world” – work. It has been a great vacation. The first day or so was nice weather then the clouds and rain came, but it wasn’t the weather I came for, it was getting away from work. Before I departed I had a few customers ask me how the weather was in Portugal. I just tell them I’m not on vacation for the weather, I going to get away from work, and I did. I’m guessing there will be a few messages to answer and telephone calls to reply to, but that’s tomorrow. Right now I’m still on my last day, even though it is a travel day!
Yea, it was rainy for a while, but ok. I got to spend some quality time with a full coffee cup and my computer – doing a little writing, one thing I can’t really do at home because there’s always distractions and it’s hard to keep a trend of thought. Getting away helps the mind to clear out and lets the thoughts enter at will. Yes there were breaks in the weather and I’d go out for walks in the mountains, sometimes early in the morning and other times in the afternoons. Always great to see and hear what nature has to say.
This year was a little different, I planned a full day to see Lisbon and it was a good day! It just happened to be the 11th day of the 11th month. To many people this doesn’t have much of a meaning, but every Veteran knows what day it is – Veteran’s Day! It was this day, 11th hour, 11th day of the 11th month, 1918 that the War to end all Wars was over – Oh if it was true. Since moving to Denmark I don’t get the chance to celebrate Veteran’s Day in the traditional day with my Brother/Sisters in Arms, but I got a big surprise this year.
I was on a sight see bus down by the river. As I looked out, listening to the taped description of the area, I noticed a military memorial and a large gathering of people – I knew immediately what it was, a ceremony commenorating the end of WWI, also the national Portuguese Veterans Day ceremony! I got off the bus and proceeded to the sight.   I felt privileged! I don’t speak the language, but being a retired Sergeant’s Major I understood.

In front of the reviewing stand were detachments from each of the Portuguese military services, to include a band standing at the position of Parade Rest. There was some back ground military music playing and soon the ceremony started. A small casket under the Portuguese Colors was in front and after some words were said, soon different generals and national leaders laid wreaths in front of the casket. Once this was done, more words were said and some music was played, then the remains of the “Unknown Soldier” were returned to the chapel. At the end of the ceremony the military units did a Pass & Review which was very special. At the end of the Pass & Review, standard bearers(veterans) with the colors of different military regiments fell in behind the last military unit and so the ceremony was over. I felt blessed to be there. I know I wasn’t home but I was at the honoring of Veterans and one thing I’ve learned, the Brotherhood-of-Arms knows no language barriers! In my own mind I was honoring my countries Vets as well.
After the ceremony broke up I went back to the bus stop to continue on my way. I got to talking with a taxi driver who spoke very good English. Soon a group of 3-4 men came up and one started to talk to the driver. I noticed by the pin on the gentleman’s coat he was a vet and I asked the driver to state this to him. I also asked him to tell the man I was a Vet from the USA and we also had the same ceremony in the States. His eyes lit up and he smiled. Reaching in his inside pocket he came out with a hip flask and motioned to me. I knew what it was – a salute to our comrades. I accepted his flask and felt a little lost as I had none. Soon the others offered their flasks to me as well. The first man I was told had been in Angola in 1962-63 and one of the other men was his brother. I told them I had worked with soldiers from Portugal when in Kosovo. When they learned this, it was another round from the flasks! We all shook hands, exchanged smiles and they went their way. Soon my bus came.
This had to have been the best vacation ever. I got to meet some very nice people and celebrate Veteran’s Day, even though I wasn’t home!